Recovering from domestic violence

Everyone who experiences domestic violence has a different reaction to it. The way in which you respond to and recover from your experience depends upon a number of things, which might include: the types of abuse you experienced; any past experiences of abuse and violence; the strategies you used to survive the abuse; other stress in your life; and the support or lack of support you received from friends, family and services. Whatever your experience, recovering from domestic violence is a recovery from a significant trauma.

Leaving an abusive relationship can be the beginning of a process of healing and recovering. There is a range of common reactions that you may experience. These may include:

  • disturbed sleep patterns
  • feelings of fear, anxiety, self doubt or vulnerability
  • anger, ranging from irritability to rage
  • repeated thoughts about the abuse
  • feelings of sadness, loss or grief

You might notice that your reactions to the abuse may have been useful survival techniques while you were in the relationship but if they continue after the abuse has stopped they can become a problem. For example, always being on the alert is useful for avoiding an attack but will increase your stress if you are no longer in danger.

All of these feelings and experiences are normal and are a part of the recovery process. However if any of them become overpowering and prevent you from carrying out daily tasks like eating, looking after yourself, going to work and maintaining relationships with friends or family, you might seek professional support from a counsellor.

"Sometimes I become fearful of things blowing up in my face and losing everything again." ADAM, 35.